Balls, Sticks, & Stuff
8/24/2004
 
There's always next year
The Phillies have a lot of work to do for 2005. Most notably, the Phillies need a centerfielder to hit at the top of the order and a couple of starting pitchers.

I tracked down a list of potential free agents here.

We'll assume the Phightins bring back Eric Milton and let Kevin Millwood go. We'll also assume that Billy Wagner is coming back in the bullpen. With lefties Eric Milton and Randy Wolf, the Phillies most likely would want to target a right-handed starter or two. Pedro Martinez will be available, but one would guess that there will be a bidding war between the Red Sox, his current team, and the Yankees.

One pitcher of note is Carl Pavano of the Marlins. He currently sits at 14-5 with a 2.97 ERA. He has established himself as the ace of the staff, when he was only supposed to be their fourth or fifth best starter at this point, behind Josh Beckett, AJ Burnett, Brad Penny (who was traded to the Dodgers and promptly went on the DL) and Dontrelle Willis. Adding him to the rotation would not only improve the Phillies, but hurt the Marlins, a chief divisional rival. Matt Clement of the Cubs, Matt Morris and Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals and the Twins' Brad Radke will be looking for new deals, as well.

Carlos Beltran is the obvious choice in centerfield. Steve Finley isn't getting any younger and is likely to return to Arizona this winter. The man Beltran replaced, Craig Biggio, is also getting up there in age. Marquis Grissom? Wow, other than Beltran, this sounds like a list of candidates to replace Rafael Palmeiro in the Viagra ads.

The Phillies can sign at least one high-profile free agent this winter without significantly raising payroll. Millwood comes off the books along with his $11 million. Placido Polanco ($3.95 million) has his contract expire, as well, and Chase Utley is ready to step into his starting role. Rheal Cormier ($3 million) is the only other player making significant money with an expiring deal.

These are just some of the moves the Phillies might consider. Hopefully, whatever the braintrust is after this season can put their heads together and fix this team.



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